Aramco Seeks Innovation At U.S. Research Centers

The new Houston Saudi Aramco Research Center, dedicated solely to upstream research in geology, geophysics, production, drilling, computational modeling and reservoir engineering.
The new Houston Saudi Aramco Research Center, dedicated solely to upstream research in geology, geophysics, production, drilling, computational modeling and reservoir engineering.

Aramco Services Company (ASC), the U.S. subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, is establishing three research centers in the United States that focus on upstream and downstream innovations.

The centers, which have state-of-the-art laboratories and top scientists, are developing groundbreaking ideas and technology in areas that include unconventional resources, enhanced oil recovery, nanotechnology, next-generation fuels and advanced materials.

Aramco research centers located in Boston and Detroit are operational and ramping up activities, while a Houston-based center is expected to be fully operational by early 2014.

Specifically:

  • The Houston center, which will be ASC’s largest research and development center with more than 50,000 square feet, is dedicated solely to upstream research in geology, geophysics, production, drilling, computational modeling and reservoir engineering.
  • The Detroit center will conduct downstream research in areas of fuel-engine efficiency and carbon emission management.
  • The Boston center is combining both upstream and downstream research with focus on advanced computational modeling and nanotechnology application to the oil and gas industry.

“Research and development have always been the cornerstones of Saudi Aramco’s activities,” said Mustafa Al-Ali, director of research and development at ASC. “These three U.S. centers join a global network of world-renowned research centers established to leverage existing scientific and academic expertise.

“The U.S. centers are located in ideal places for innovation, collaboration and the rapid development and implementation of solutions to major challenges in the industry,” he said.

Sharing Knowledge

The Houston center is located in the city’s “Energy Corridor,” a major hub for oil and gas research and development activities. It is near chemical and oil field fluids manufacturers as well as service companies, research and development labs, and top geosciences and petroleum engineering universities.

“This center will allow us to push forward and achieve breakthroughs that not only benefit ASC’s parent company, but the energy industry as a whole,” Al-Ali said.

The Boston center is adjacent to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and will host upstream and downstream teams. At the Boston center, scientists will be performing upstream research including tight gas fluid flow modeling, basin simulation, in-situ sensing and intervention, and nanofluids and nanotechnology.

Downstream research will include advanced gas and oil nano-based separation technologies.

The Detroit center is strategically located to collaborate with leading automotive research organizations. It is envisioned to play a major role in advancing fuel-engine systems for more responsible automobiles.

“We are aiming to take major strides in research and development rather than incremental steps,” Al-Ali said. “This calls for interdisciplinary teams to supplement our petroleum engineering expertise.”

The three U.S. centers are closely aligned with Saudi Aramco’s Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center’s Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) and Research & Development Center (R&DC) located in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Research centers also are located in Dhahran and Thuwal, Saudi Arabia; Delft, Netherlands; Paris; Beijing; and a technology center in Aberdeen, Scotland.

ASC and Saudi Aramco share knowledge and expertise through the involvement of its professionals with AAPG, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), International Association of Automation, Process Industry Practices, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and the Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts (SPWLA).

To support award-winning research, ASC looks for professionals with expertise in geology, geophysics, drilling, reservoir engineering, computational modeling, production technologies, chemistry, materials science and other fields to join its teams and bring their perspective to the many opportunities that lie ahead.

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Emphasis: Exploration Innovations